“Tom Swifties” JUST FOR FUN: Reading or Composing Sentences
Just what is a Tom Swifty? It's a play on words that follows a pattern and relies for its humor on a punning relationship between the way an adverb describes a speaker and at the same time refers significantly to the import of the speaker's statement. The adverb ends with an -ly. Tom Swifties were originated by Edward Stratemeyer in a series of strip cartoons about a character called Tom Swift in
the 1920's. Here's a sample of Tom Swifties for your pleasure. I've kept them short to fit in the column. Have some fun and encourage your students to make up some of their own.
"Who turned out the lights?" asked Tom darkly.
"This river is rough," shouted Tom rapidly.
"I collect fairy tales," said Tom grimly.
"I must patch this coat," said Tom raggedly.
"I don't like hot dogs," said Tom frankly.
"Fire!" yelled Tom alarmingly.
"The boat is leaking," said Tom balefully.
"I fought with Geronimo," said Tom bravely.
"It's too cold outside," said Tom icily.
"Get to the back of the boat," yelled Tom sternly.
"The situation is grave," said Tom cryptically.
"Let's get married," said Tom engagingly.
"Elvis is dead," Tom said expressly.
"You have no bananas?" asked Tom fruitlessly.
"Is that radioactive?" asked Tom glowingly.
"I can't go on," panted Tom haltingly.
"Nay!" said Tom hoarsely.
"I like camping," said Tom intently.
"It's only average," said Tom meanly.
"My wheel is damaged," said Tom outspokenly.
"Nice looking glass," said Tom reflectively.
"Pitch me an easy one," called Tom strikingly.
"That's too much pineapple," said Tom dolefully.
"I mailed it twice," said Tom resentfully.
"I'm under pressure," said Tom flatly.
"That's a grand dam," said Tom coolly.
"I tied the score," said Tom evenly.
"That's the tiebreaker," said Tom gamely.